Residents and Ratepayers’ Association chairman Tokkie Deysel has challenged the Enoch Mgijima Municipality to employ a qualified electrical engineer so the local authority can solve the electrical outage challenges it faces.
Various areas, including Ezibeleni, Top Town, Bergsig and Mlungisi, have been plagued by outages over the past few months with residents taking to social media to vent their anger and despair.
The duration of outages has varied but Zola residents in Tarkastad – which also falls within the Enoch Mgijima municipal area – were left without power for five days at the end of last month.
Deysel, speaking to The Rep this week, said that since former technical services director Piet Bezuidenhout retired in 2014, the municipality had not had a qualified electrical engineer.
Deysel has also questioned the municipality’s progress in implementing the electricity master plan, which resolved to upgrade the infrastructure at a cost of R5-million over five years, following a council resolution in 2015 – and whether funding, pledged by President Jacob Zuma in his state of the nation address in the same year to curb electricity problems in the former Lukhanji, had been received and utilised accordingly.
He said the municipality had, during a meeting with the association the same year, indicated that all was on track in addressing the electrical problems in the town.
This week, Deysel said a cable in Grey Street had simply been covered up and not been properly repaired last year, adding to the power problems in the CBD.
Deysel – who is also calling for a forensic audit of the former Lukhanji municipality’s affairs – said he would support the opening of a ratepayers’ account where the money would be deposited until the municipality delivered services.
This would depend on whether it was legal and whether it was deemed to be in line with the constitution.
He said the structure was waiting for a mandate from its members.
“The people who created the mess we find ourselves in are still working for the municipality. The heads of departments must ensure people who are qualified get the jobs. There is also incompetence among the heads of departments.”
Enoch Mgijima communications officer Gcobani Msindwana said the municipality was facing two problems when it came to electricity provision.
“Our qualified electrical engineer, George Zebalunge resigned and we had difficulty implementing our five year master plan. People are not paying for services and as a result the municipality can not fund the master plan. We have a serious challenge of funds.”
Msindwana said the municipality ended up having to fund maintenance instead of new electrical projects.
“Illegal connections are also affecting the manner in which we supply electricity. We want to deliver reliable electricity to our people and we must apologise that we can not always deliver to the expected standards.”
Msindwana encouraged locals to pay for the services as the money would be invested back into providing services